Pens' Neal suspended 5 games for kneeing Marchand

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New York, NY ( - Pittsburgh Penguins forward James Neal was suspended five games Monday for kneeing Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand in the head Saturday night.

The incident occurred in the first period when Neal kneed a defenseless Marchand, who was on the ice, while skating past him. Neal was assessed a two- minute minor for kneeing on the play.

A five-game suspension is the maximum number that can be received with a phone hearing, which Neal had with the league's department of player safety on Monday.

The penalty on Saturday precipitated a scrum in which Bruins forward Shawn Thornton punched Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik twice. Orpik left the ice on a stretcher.

Neal, who has 10 goals and 10 assists this season, is eligible to return for a home game against Minnesota on Dec. 19.